A career in the film industry is never clear cut and the phrase “it is who you know, not what you know” has never been more apt.
For those of us not fortunate enough to be born into film royalty we have to put in some elbow grease. Talent and ongoing training are two elements, but something that is the key skill to your career success is networking. Your network is your net worth.
If you calculate your reach, how would you calculate your current net worth?
People are not commodities any never should be viewed as such, but we tend to collaborate with our connections or our connection’s connections. We are seeing people create tremendous careers in the industry that were previously unknown because they went to events and actively sought out professionals. I want to share with you some key tips for successful networking.
1. Find events near you
All major cities have events that are perfect for networking with film biz connections. From London to LA there are Q and As to meet ups that will satisfy whatever you are in the mood for. Some are for a specific profession, like writers. That is great if you want to co-write with someone or are having writer’s block and looking for new ways to get around it.
If, however you want to boost your career, try not to be too specific. If you meet a producer or actor that is fantastic and might actually help your upcoming projects enormously.
Some people have a harder time finding events near them. There are two ways to overcome this. You can always start your own event. This takes guts and may take some time to build, but it will really help you build your networking into your routine. The other option is to travel to in-person events elsewhere and be active with virtual networking.
2. Vary the way you communicate
Networking is not at the top of your priority list. Work, keeping a roof over your head and having time to relax are all incredibly important. Networking can feel, for some people, like an enormous pressure. This is not necessarily due to social anxiety but to time pressure and “not doing enough” syndrome.
First of all, there is no such thing as “doing enough”, just do what you can. Secondly, network smart, not hard. We have a variety of ways we can network. If you have skills-based training, try it as part of a group. You are networking. Chat to people on forums and sites; this is very efficient networking.
You can go to events once a month and that is an incredible achievement but if you want to build a lasting professional relationship, make sure you follow up with people you feel you want to work with. Offer to take people for a coffee and continue your chat. Keep it professional, but make the effort to get to know them. We are all busy but the more people feel a personal connection to you, the more you will be on their mind.
3. Don’t be fake
We are in a generation of unsocial media and filtered “in the moment’” pictures for likes. We all want to get on with people and want them to like us. Being part of a group has been key to human survival for centuries but it is important not to sacrifice personal integrity. Not everyone has to agree on everything. Actually, it is pretty obvious when someone is being a “yes” person, and it is really annoying. If you are talking about something and have a varying perspective, mention it politely. Your authenticity will be remembered and appreciated.